Friday, 18 January 2013

Jumping on the Bandwagon: Lazy writing and arrogance today



You know what annoys me? People jumping on the bandwagon.

Let me be clear from the outset, everyone is entitled to their opinion, and in creative areas like film, music or other arts, there are no ways to argue with someones personal taste. How and ever, sometimes, probably more often than you'd like, you will come across someone who cannot formulate their own opinion, and instead, go with the majority ruling, even if they can't back up the reasons why. These people are annoyances, certainly, but it happens. What happens less often, and is far less forgivable are morons who not only side with popular opinion, but lash out in as outlandish a manner as they can, using a respectable public forum, yelling so loud that you could almost be forgiven for thinking they know what they are talking about. Sometimes you know something is off with what is being said, but dismiss it and move on with your life. However, if you take a moment to examine just what it is that is catching you, you can normally find a loudmouth who not only has no facts, but also thinks they are witty and clever with just how loud their noises are. 



Ladies and gentlemen, I begrudgingly introduce you to the hack-writer of somethingawful.com, Sean 'Keanu Grieves' Hanson

If you click on that link, you will be taken to his review of the latest Leatherface flick, Texas Chainsaw 3D. This film has taken a hammering by critics, dramatically falling from the US box office number 1 to quickly disappearing into the distance. Now, this film definitely isn't anything to write home about, but after all the reviews I read, I was expecting the biggest turkey this side of Chernobyl Diaries. Imagine my shock when, after eventually throwing my arms in the air and figuring there was no point in taking this seriously so I might as well just enjoy it, I actually came out from the film finding it a relatively fun cinema outing. Sure, the characters are thin on the ground and you could drive a semi through the plot holes, but the film felt like something poorly executed by people who loved the original Texas Chain Saw Massacre (you can read Joey's review here. We had very similar feelings on the film).

So, obviously my viewpoint and Mr. Hanson's differ greatly. That's no big deal. People don't agree with me often. And awful lot of people didn't like the film. What is a big deal is his writings about it. If you are a casual TCM fan (Ok, I'm a bit more than a casual one, I have to admit), then his review should make your blood boil. Not because he is dissing the horror icon or the latest garden tool melee, but because his review is extremely insulting, and extremely wrong. Factually. As in, those things that are indisputable. And arrogant. His review is that also. 



Let's just skim the surface and go for the most outrageous claims;

'Texas Chainsaw 3D exists only as a shameless cash-in masquerading as a work of artistic loyalty'  
You cannot make this claim without mentioning the Michael Bay produced remake and prequel. THEY were cash-ins. I have always enjoyed them and found them gorgeous, but upon re-watching, the Jessica Biel star vehicle is even more thin on plot that this installment. This one has the added advantage of having the respect to have several of the original cast have brief cameo appearances (Gunnar Hansen has never appeared in any  apart from the original because producers normally refuse to pay for him). It might not have Hooper and Henkel, as Hanson wants, but they have both made new entries, so it's fair to say the combination of cast or crew recapturing the original's magic has been covered. And the film tries something new with its plot. Instead of kids getting trapped in house with cannibal family, it actually gives a motivation for carnage. The effectiveness of this is questionable, but shameless it is not. The film is downright admirable in how it ISN'T being too loyal to the original (a problem pretty much every other entry has).

'Texas Chainsaw 3D... reaches a whole new level of badness, combining overall incompetence, scenes of unjustifiable cruelty and the assumption that the audience won't give a shit and neither should the filmmakers'
 Ok, I don't think the film is particularly well executed, and even though it had a budget bigger than the remake it isn't nearly as pretty, so I can't argue there, but where is this unjustifiably cruelty? The level of violence was in keeping with the rest of the series, but in no way near as mean-spirited as Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning. You want something with unjustifiable cruelty? Then don't leave the elephant in the room out of the equation. Heck, by any sort of horror movie standards, this film is pretty tame.

Hanson then goes on a check list of problems with the film. There's spoilers here, but let me point out most  (not all) are very typical cinematic contrivances an audience is asked to accept, and this is nothing more than nit-picking to fatten up a rant. He even takes issue with a moment involving crashing through a gate that goes against the grain. I found the moment ridiculous, but also couldn't fault it, since it was a new and realistic turn on what we normally see. Our reviewer also seems to take issue with simple character motivation and understanding that anyone who took more than a second to think about would realise is sound. 


'...negating The Texas Chain Saw Massacre's iconic framing scene, in which deputies scour a horror-house for evidence while narrator John Laroquette matter-of-factly introduces the film as a piece of documentary.'
YOU ARE TALKING ABOUT THE WRONG FUCKING FILM. In Texas Chain Saw Massacre (the original, with a space between 'Chain' and 'Saw'), Laroquette reads an opening title roll. The Marcus Nispel remake, Texas Chainsaw (one word) Massacre has the quoted 'iconic' framing scene. Unless pop culture had a meeting while my back was turned, nothing about this remake is remarkable, let alone iconic.


'His incompetence surfaces again for the carnival scene, which -- for all its promise of grand guignol carnage on the scale of Piranha 3D or The Collection -- exists without payoff.' 
One shot in the trailer and suddenly everyone thinks this should have been some big moment in the film? It is what it is; a brief scene that serves its function. People getting their knickers in a twist over it have no one to blame but themselves. Also, call me crazy, but the Ferris wheel was a pretty nice payoff.

'...while chasing his sister.'
It's his cousin. Why did you get this wrong? It's pretty much the only plot point in the film. This is just lazy writing. I hope this guy wasn't paid for writing this article, because with stupid errors like this, you'd definitely be wanting your money back.

'...this film takes the unprecedented step of making Leatherface sympathetic, a hero and a tragically misunderstood monster in search of his Dr. Frankenstein even though he likes to dismember his victims slowly while they're hanging off meathooks before he wears their faces as masks.'
Yup... This film, and every other TCM film, make him sympathetic and tragically misunderstood, BECAUSE HE IS!!!! He isn't Michael Myers, killing mindlessly. He isn't Freddy Kruger, hellbent on revenge. He is someone with mental problems trying to protect his family and doing it in the way they taught him. It is all about family. There has not been a single film in the series that has not made it clear that he does these things because of what he is told to do and that he knows no better. Hell, TCM2 even hints that he could still function normally if given a chance.



I could write thousands more words on this article, and the ilk of writer behind it, but I'm done with it. This is nonsense. If someone is going to make the centrepiece of their article a bashing on a film everyone is already bashing, then you'd better at least get your facts straight, especially if you are wanting to be so righteous about it. TC3D has plenty of problems with it, and Hanson rightly touches on some of them, but he then bases so much of his vitriol on false facts and redundant assumptions. The cherry on top is just how arrogant he is about it. He decides that his opinion must be fact (something I bet he feels safe in, since it is currently widely spread across the net), and outright insults people who go against it, such as Variety's Joe Laydon and The Onion's Scott Tobias. God forbid someone enjoys a flawed but worthy film.

This is a good example of lazy writing being caught out. Plain and simple. Hanson may well be a typically talented writer, and in no way can I say he isn't a stand up guy. For all I know, he does charity work in soup kitchens and is a modern day saint, but that's not my point. My point is you don't have to agree with me and like the film, but I can tell you why I did and didn't like it, and will respect those who have their own opinion, but the second you decide your opinion is better than others, then you had better be ready and able to back yourself up, because people like Joey and I will see it, and we will be the fucking iceberg to your idiotic Titanic.